Lectionary Cycle C
LIVING THE CATHOLIC FAITH IN THE 3RD MILLENIUM
A LAYMAN'S LOOK AT THE JOURNEY OF FAITH

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Setting the earth on fire...

"Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division."

Jesus asked this question of his disciples immediately after telling them that he has come to set the earth on fire. This passage is a continuation of Luke's Gospel, which outlines the Lord's idea of discipleship. It closes the 12th Chapter, which begins with the mission of the disciples, and takes us through his description of the Transfiguration, the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the story of Martha and Mary, the Lord's teaching on Prayer (the Lord's Prayer) … right up to last week's reading where Jesus tells us to be prepared, for we "do not know the hour when the Son of Man will come."

Those who made up the earliest Christian communities lived in an age of persecution and fear, and with a very vivid sense of expecting the second coming of Jesus at any moment. So being prepared, being ready for His appearance was a very powerful motivation for them to be faithful in living out the Gospel every day and in every circumstance. It made their lives heroic; it made their witnessing in faith very courageous and consistent.

As time passed, and Jesus did not in fact return, the sense of urgency passed. It was easier to become complacent, to grow comfortable with compromise, and to put off real conversion. All of the Gospel messages about being prepared had to be reimagined... and, very often, the motivation for authentic Christian living became the inevitability and the unpredictability of death: Christians must live good and holy lives every single day in order to be ready to meet the Lord at the moment of death.

But for us, being prepared has to mean something else. It has to imply a profound sense of commitment and fidelity to the Gospel and to Christian values. It means that this attitude of mind and heart becomes second nature to us… is always present... and directs and affects all of our choices.

One doesn't need to be a theologian or "professional religious" person in order to be a disciple. Jesus never once formulated a doctrinal or theological proposition. He spent his life and his ministry among people - living with them, touching them, talking with them, embracing and healing them, breathing His Spirit into their hearts. The first disciples became aware - begrudgingly, at first - that the Spirit they had seen in Jesus was present and active in their lives as well. Eventually, they came to believe that this Spirit could be as courageously expressed in their lives as Jesus had allowed it to be in his. And so should we.

We need to be prepared, always. We do have to live each day trying to imitate the life of Jesus as perfectly as we can. His ministry flowed from his belief that living in love was living in God. He believed that His intimate understanding of God would be "good news" to all people - that it would bring freedom to those held captive, bring sight to the blind and set the downtrodden free.

I believe this is the "fire" that He was speaking about. He told us that there is no easy way to bring about the Kingdom of God. It demands purity of heart, a commitment to peace, readiness to forgive, generosity, the endurance of persecution… being ready to take the hard road. True discipleship calls for large, loving and generous hearts - filled with a burning desire to live as He lived, to serve as He served and to recognize, name and affirm the presence of God's Spirit in people's lives - and to call them to act in concert with this presence. This is true freedom.

Jesus has indeed set us free. But this is a freedom that is far different from what we might expect. By his life we are set free from images, ideas and practices that bind us into the enslavement of thinking and acting as if we had all of the answers; we are set free from the fear and abandonment of a distant, impersonal God; we are set free from divisions that divide us and set us against one another. This is a freedom that challenges us to break down barriers and to take personal responsibility for the emergence of the God's reign in this world.

And maybe that is why Jesus said that He has not come to "bring peace." His message is one that rattles our cage; that shakes us out of our complacency - one that makes us uncomfortable. He lights his fire within us and tells us that it is not enough that we just listen and keep these words to ourselves.

If we Christians, like Jesus, truly lived and preached as He did, then we can be certain that the reign of God would be seen among us, and that Christianity would have something of great value to share and explore with people searching for meaning in an age of disbelief and cynicism.

Only by accepting this challenge will we be able to "set the earth on fire" with the "good news."

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – A Place at Table
The early church saw Eucharist as an integral part of the Gospel message. But in the middle ages a shift happened when the church became engaged in the controversies over the “real presence.” This resulted in an emphasis placed on what Jesus did at the Last Supper and less on what he did and said in his ministry: the focus was then placed on the words of institution (even the word “institution” gives the act a fixed and isolated sound).
Mother's Day 2019
The Gospels speak of Jesus giving his disciples a new commandment:  that they love one another as He has loved.  To love as Jesus loved is no easy task.  We are all influenced by our own likes or dislikes - our own preferences or prejudices.  Easy or not, this is how others will know that we are His followers.  The God who is Love has commanded us to love in the same manner.
8th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Every Tree is Known by its Fruit
The community for which Luke wrote was very different from the original followers of Jesus, and he writes to a group of people which has already gone through its initial fervor. The concerns of the early Christian communities are no longer present, and they had already come to realize that Jesus’ return was not as imminent as the earlier disciples thought. It was a community that needed to be challenged again to live a life of prayer, maintain total commitment to the Lord Jesus and live a community life that would be a visible sign to others that Christ was alive.
1st Sunday of Advent - Paying Attention... to God and Each Other
"Be vigilant at all times" - not exactly a very pleasant phrase to be heard as we prepare for the holidays on this first Sunday of Advent. Jesus used variations of the phrase at various times during his ministry.  And it has been interpreted in many different ways:   "be watchful," "be careful," "stay awake," "keep on your toes," "heads up!" "pay attention."
Pentecost Sunday - Spirit of New Life
"The Holy Spirit is alive and well and making mischief..."
- Sr. Simone Campbell For Fifty Days we have lived and breathed the miracle of Easter/Pentecost.  Hopefully we have reflected and understood - better than ever before - that this is not just a spectacular episode of Salvation History that happened a long time ago, but that it still touches us with its reverberations.  For us as a people of faith, Easter/Pentecost is NOW.  It is the continuing invitation from our God for an ongoing, ever new encounter with Him and with others.
4th Sunday of Easter - The Smell of Sheep
  When Jesus talks about the "Good Shepherd" His intent is to focus more on the role of shepherd and less on the attitude of the sheep. God's people no longer see themselves as sheep. Nowadays, our people are generally much better educated, and better equipped to make their own conscience decisions. They are not content to be passive; they are often not submissive. They have come to a new understanding of their dignity and their role as baptized Christians, and they realize that they share the call to ministry, to evangelization, and to service - that they too are called to be "shepherds." 

Nativity of the Lord/Mary, Mother of God - Who is this Child?
In the last few days before the feast of Christmas, the Gospel focuses on a young girl who was to become the mother of God. It tells how Mary's dreams for her life were shattered in an instant by the visit of an angel. But the Gospel also reminds us that the shattering of our vision of life - the disappointments, the heartbreaks, rejection, loneliness, confusion - all of these things are part of the preparation for a greater calling. Like Mary, our own personal history becomes sacred history.
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Setting the earth on fire...
"Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division." Jesus asked this question of his disciples immediately after telling them that he has come to set the earth on fire. This passage is a continuation of Luke's Gospel, which outlines the Lord's idea of discipleship. It closes the 12th Chapter, which begins with the mission of the disciples, and takes us through his description of the Transfiguration, the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the story of Martha and Mary, the Lord's teaching on Prayer (the Lord's Prayer) … right up to last week's reading where Jesus tells us to be prepared, for we "do not know the hour when the Son of Man will come."
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Tough Choices
The Scripture Readings for these last few weeks are right on the mark. Jesus is on the final leg of his mission. He tells His followers to get ready. They are "going up to Jerusalem." He - and they - are about to be put to the test. It will not be easy. There will be contradiction and frustration. It will be a matter of dying to self, tending to the "poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind." It will be a matter of putting things into proper perspective, and starting out on the right foot.
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - True Humility
  The Gospel for the twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time has two parts to it.Jesus has been invited to the house of a prominent Pharisee. It is the Sabbath and it was the practice to invite guests for a meal at the conclusion of the synagogue service. The atmosphere is charged, people are  carefully looking at Jesus, checking him out and wondering what he might do. Luke writes that Jesus takes this occasion to tell them a parable. That’s a pretty clear clue that this is not a moral teaching, nor an instruction on getting ahead at social events, or how to behave at dinners. Parables have more to do with our standing before God, who is the host at "the banquet", to which Jesus is inviting all in need of mercy and acceptance.
11th Sunday in Ordinary Time - The Life of a Disciple
The Gospels are full of lessons, parables and accounts of the early disciples vying for position within the ranks of those called by The Lord. Even the apostles argued over who among them would have the higher place within the Kingdom. The woman who anoints Jesus in today's narrative comes with a lot of baggage - not her own, but ours. We are simply told that she was a sinner who somehow was present at the Pharisee's house... possibly slipping in when no one looking. She stood behind Jesus weeping and when the time was right, bathed his feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, kissed them and anointed them with ointment. What we see is a woman who has already been forgiven - without even asking - and her acts are an expression that she realized what she had received and is grateful.
10th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Reach Out and Touch
On a purely human level, Jesus lived most of his life in obscurity, emerged as a prophetic figure for several years, and was eventually crucified. After his death and resurrection, layer upon layer of interpretation and understanding was put on his life and his ministry so that it has become extremely difficult to get to know the flesh and blood reality of Jesus.
2nd Sunday of Easter - So Much Left to Do
Aftershocks are very disconcerting. They keep us living on the edge. They give us a radically new outlook on the permanency and security of physical things. They unclutter our lives very swiftly, effectively, and sometimes very painfully. They open our eyes and let us see how fragile we really are.
The Baptism of the Lord - With You I Am Well Pleased
The Gospel of Luke was written during a time of transition, as the early Christian community looked toward growing within the wider world. Initially the early followers of Christ were filled with the creativity and enthusiasm of a brand new faith community. But by the time Luke wrote, the danger for them was compromise and comfort. There were problems in the community as well as discouragement - and a loss of the earlier zeal and fire the characterized the first generation of believers.
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Carrying Crosses
Today’s Gospel parables of the tower builder and the king waging war are simple enough to understand: in order to ensure success, one had better be fully prepared. But the sayings on discipleship that surround these parables are some of the most radical in the gospel. They, too, are not difficult to understand, but are immensely demanding to practice. 
14th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Traveling Light
God's kingdom is often compared to a "harvest" in the Scriptures.  It is an image that perhaps meant more to other cultures, in other ages than our own.  Traditionally, today's Gospel is used to preach for an increase in the response to the vocation to the priesthood and religious life. And while that idea is very much valid, there is a much more important message for all of us in the narrative.  We can substitute the word "church" for "harvest" and we can hear the Lord reminding us that it is by God's favor that we belong to this chosen community. 
11th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Rank Has Its Privilege
I have been a student of the Martial Arts for... well, for many more years than I would like to count. Being raised in a large city, my training began as a means of self-defense; gradually (when I was much younger) it evolved into sport and competition, and now has settled into a means of trying to keep fit and simple physical exercise. I practice a style of Okinawan Karate called Shorin-Ryu Shido-Kan.
4th Sunday of Advent - Being Bearers of Christ
We are close to Christmas and the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Advent clearly tells us how close we are.  This part of Advent shifts our attention from the "last things" we heard about during the first part of Advent and last week's proclamation by John the Baptist that one is coming who will baptize with water and the Spirit.   Today the announcement is about shedding fear and rejoicing at the birth of the Lord. 
31st Sunday in Ordinary Time - A Better View
There is something of a turn-around in today's Gospel.   The standard understanding of Zacchaeus is that he is a notorious tax collector, becoming wealthy by squeezing money out of the people.   He is a sinner, a small man, both physically and morally.   He learns that Jesus is coming through town, so he climbs a sycamore tree to get a better view of him as he passes by.  Zacchaeus doesn’t shout out or call to Jesus, but the Lord sees him and calls him down. Zacchaeus repents and that's the end of his story.
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Attentive Prayer
For centuries, our Church and our cultures have taught us about the "correct" way to approach God (by whatever name He is known).  Different societies, ethnic groups and even different religions have come up with "standard" means of practicing prayer – ways of communicating with the transcendent.  Men and women throughout history have sought different ways to reach out to God, to "find themselves," to gain nirvana, to get to heaven… Prayer was always considered the first step in the journey.
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time - A Little Can Go A Long Way
"Lord, give me strength... a little patience is all I ask... give me faith." I find myself praying this little prayer quite often during my daily routine. Whether it's the driver behind me who insists upon accelerating, knowing full well that I intend to make a turn, or clients who just "don't seem to get it," or people who continually seem to make the same mistakes over and over again... I am constantly praying for assistance to cope.  We all share these same foibles, and some of us can react to life's little aggravations better than others.
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Trustworthy Stewardship
Jesus was a man with a mission. He never seemed to stay long in one place. He kept on the move, leaving much of His mission still unaccomplished. His public ministry lasted only about three years - then it was on to Jerusalem to rejection, condemnation, and death on the cross. Seemingly, it was all over. But so much of what He had said indicated that His work would go on, that somehow He himself would keep on living and healing and teaching through His faithful followers.
23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - A Tough Road to Follow
The Lord is on his way to Jerusalem.  He turns and speaks to the great crowds who were traveling with him.  What Jesus says to them is an indication that his journey was about to end and that choices had to be made.  If there were any among them who were planning on going only a short distance as some kind of part-time followers, this would have been a good point to drop out and turn back.  This would have been a good moment to give it up and return to their loved ones and former lives. 
14th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Your Hearts Will Rejoice
The Gospel for this Sunday strikes me as a description of the spiritual life in miniature. Jesus chooses his disciples, He instructs them and then warns them, the disciples depart, they succeed in the name of Jesus, they return rejoicing and finally Jesus reminds them of even greater joy.  This is really a roadmap of the spiritual journey.
The Nativity of John the Baptist - Preparation/Continuation
There is something within all of us that wants to be recognized, acclaimed, appreciated. We usually want to get credit for the good we do, the words that we say, the ministries that we take part in. But, if the truth be told, very few folks get the credit that they deserve. Many, like John the Baptist - whose birth we celebrate today - carry on ministries of tremendous importance to prepare for the future, but are seldom recognized for that role. In fact, many believed that John himself was the long-awaited Messiah.  And he continually had to remind people that his role in God's plan was totally different from what they believed. 
6th Sunday of Easter - Not as the World Gives...
In the final weeks of Easter as we prepare for the feast of Pentecost, the Gospel readings for Sundays and weekdays are taken almost entirely from Jesus' farewell discourse at the Last Supper (John 13-17).  Jesus is saying a very unique goodbye. He is leaving his beloved band of followers, but promises to be with them in the future in a new way.  He has to go, he tells them but,  "...I will come back to you."  He's not just saying, "Cheer up, things won't be so bad." Actually things are going to get quite bad for him and them.  But he is assuring them that the coming of the Holy Spirit will keep their relationship alive because the Spirit will be the bond that holds them together in love with him and his Father.
Feasts of Mary, Mother of God/Holy Family
The calendar year comes to an end and we gather to celebrate two special feasts in our Church: The Holy Family and that of Mary, the Mother of God. We celebrate the end of another year of pilgrimage in faith, and the beginning of a new year of our lives.
2nd Sunday of Advent - Prophetic Voices
Advent is a season of expectation and of hope. It is a time for us to listen again to God's promise of deliverance and reconciliation. It is a time for us to be reassured of His relentless love for each and all of us, and for our planet.
The Nativity of the Lord - Keeping Watch by Night
Mass at Dawn
The shepherds, we are told, were keeping "night watch" over their flocks when the angels came to announce the good news of salvation. That's what it can feel like, being a believer in today's world... darkness all around and the call to duty, to watch and protect what is vulnerable and valuable. We search for and practice: peace in an increasingly hostile world; forgiveness when others hold grudges; simplicity while all around us there is spending and accumulating; concern for the needy whom society marginates and government policies neglect; frugality while our nation uses resources as if there were no tomorrow. We keep "night watch."
33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time - Awesome Sights And Mighty Signs
As the year winds down, you'd think we might get happier and more joyful readings. In the Gospel for this weekend, The Lord asks us to think about some pretty difficult things: "the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down." The readings seem to be all about terrible loss, nightmare, and calamity.
32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time - Living Life to the Fullest
As we near the end of the Church's liturgical year, the Sunday readings focus on thoughts of everlasting life and resurrection. Belief in the resurrection of the dead came fairly late in Judaism. The book of Daniel, composed about the year 165 B.C. speaks of the belief in the resurrection of the dead. The book of Wisdom, written about the last half of the 1st Century, speaks of immortality, and while the Books of Maccabees were not in the Jewish canon of scripture, the Church has always recognized its inspiration and importance. The councils of Florence and Trent cited 2 Mac. 12:46 as one of its scriptural references when it formulated its doctrine on faith in a Purgatory. The story of the seven brothers and their mother shows that these martyrs were followers of the Torah and believed in a life after death.
Feast of All Saints
It is fitting that the Gospel for this feast of All Saints paints the picture of Jesus speaking the words of the Eight Beatitudes: Blessed are they… Each presents a theme which together comprise the roadmap of the path towards holiness.
30th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Social Teaching and the Catholic Vote
For the Christian people of America conversion to the Gospel means to revise "all the different areas and aspects of life, especially those related to the social order and the pursuit of the common good." It will be especially necessary "to nurture the growing awareness in society of the dignity of every person and, therefore, to promote in the community a sense of the duty to participate in political life in harmony with the Gospel."
- Pope John Paul II
The Church in America (Ecclesia in America)
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Unjust Judges
Jesus was a great story-teller - and people loved to listen as He taught through parables. The people understood the message of the parables, because the stories dealt with ordinary, day-to-day experiences that they were all familiar with. But they loved these stories for another reason as well: most of the time these stories disturbed the comfortable and comforted the disturbed. The parables would seem to point to an obvious conclusion, and then shock the listener with an unexpected ending. Jesus continually challenged conventional wisdom, and He so upset the leadership of his time by his parables that they eventually began to plot a way to get him out of the picture.
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time - The Other Nine
We have read the story of the Ten Lepers so often throughout our lives that we sometimes take the point of the story for granted. We often focus on the thankfulness of the one leper, in contrast to the nine others who did not return to "give glory to God." It is much easier to condemn the nine rather than understand them. Jesus knew about the ten and where they where and where they went and why they were and who they were, and he healed all of them just the same.
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Mustard Seed Faith
Each of the readings for this week's liturgy begins with a plea. The first reading is taken from the Prophecy of Habakkuk, who wrote about 600 B.C. shortly before the Babylonian invasion of Judah and the capture of the city of Jerusalem. Political intrigue and idolatry were widespread in Judah and Jerusalem at this period. The prophet is arguing with God about this state of affairs - why should God allow these things to happen? Habakkuk seems to be undergoing severe testing from the violence that surrounds him and, worse, by God's seeming indifference. "I cry to you 'Violence!' but you do not intervene." He is confronted, he says, by "destruction and violence.... strife and clamorous discord." And so he argues with God about this state of affairs - why should God allow these things to happen?
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time - The Cry of the Poor
I wonder if the audiences that gathered to hear Jesus ever tired of his almost endless "cry for the poor." Page after page of the Gospel speaks of his unwavering concern for the beggars, the widows and orphans, the homeless, the jobless and the oppressed. We almost want to protest: "What has that got to do with the kingdom of God? Talk to us about holiness and prayer, talk to us about everlasting life. Enough about the poor."
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Faithful in a Very Little
Jesus was a man with a mission. He never seemed to stay long in one place. He kept on the move, leaving much of His mission still unaccomplished. His public ministry lasted only about three years - then it was on to Jerusalem to rejection, condemnation, and death on the cross. Seemingly, it was all over. But so much of what He had said indicated that His work would go on, that somehow He himself would keep on living and healing and teaching through His faithful followers.
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Starting over...
It is hard to believe that it is September! The quiet, refreshing time of summer is gone. It's time to start over again, time to fire up the boilers and turn over the engines. The machinery has been overhauled and is ready to go.
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Moving Up and Out
The Gospels for the last few weeks have brought back to mind the stories of the first disciples: how they were called from among ordinary people; what they were called to do; and what Jesus told them they could expect by preaching the "Good News of Salvation." As in all passages of the Scriptures, this ongoing re-telling of the episodes of Christ's life is part of our Tradition, part of our history as Christians and part of our history as a community of believers.
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Awaiting the Master's Return
Today's Gospel passage is a continuation of Luke's Gospel, which outlines the Lord's idea of discipleship. It comes at the close the 12th Chapter, which begins with the mission of the disciples, and takes us through his description of the Transfiguration, the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the story of Martha and Mary, the Lord's teaching on Prayer (the Lord's Prayer) - right up to this week's reading where Jesus tells us to be prepared, for we "do not know the hour when the Son of Man will come."
18th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Putting on the New Self
Jesus lived His life fully, celebrating each moment, each encounter, and each relationship with joy.   He embraced human experience, drank deeply of human emotions, was nourished and comforted by human love.   But He was always looking into the eyes of His Father.   He was always conscious of the circle of His human existence - leading Him from God back to God.   He never lost His sense of direction and purpose   and in that sense He was prepared for whatever came.   His love of the Father was integrated into all that He said and did and became.   There was no event, no person, no circumstance that ever separated Him from His Father.
17th Sunday of Ordinary Time - The Language of the Soul
The ultimate purpose of Jesus' living and dying as one of us was to provide the full and final revelation of the love and goodness of God to all people in all ages. And when asked by his disciples to teach them to pray, Jesus speaks of His Father, in what we have come to know as the Lord's Prayer. He speaks in simple terms, in plain language about the Father whose Being He shares so intimately and whose Love He wants so much to share.
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Hospitality
In this week's readings, we see examples of age-old values: service, stewardship and contemplation. Abraham drops everything and welcomes three strangers into home, while his wife Sarah is unexpectedly forced to prepare an elaborate meal for them. Mary of Bethany sits at the feet of the Lord, clinging to His every word. Her sister Martha occupies her time with the business "playing the perfect hostess" - with a little resentment thrown in for good measure.
15th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Something Very Near to Us
For so many people, God is remote, far off, impersonal, mechanical, unconcerned. The words "will of God" or "law of God" sound somehow threatening, unconnected with the reality of human experience. We tend to get too wrapped up in and concerned about the stressful demands that have led us to fill our days with work and other hectic activities. Many times we don't see our Church being able to "speak our language" and to deal with what we truly consider to be the needs of the people - our needs.
14th Sunday of Ordinary Time - Celibacy
The power of the Catholic Church is something that cannot be denied. Throughout the ages, the exercise of this power has been the source of many things: first and foremost - the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because of her far-reaching influence, the Church has fostered ages of enlightenment - the worldwide spread of education and art - and has always striven for the betterment of mankind. Yet the zealousness of some were also responsible for the Inquisition, the waging of the Crusades, and both revolution and Schism.
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Hands to the Plow
As adults, we can claim to have seen a lot in our lives.  We are experienced in some of the rough parts of life.  We have had promises broken, been betrayed and had our share of disillusionment.  Our instinct for survival fights fiercely against any threat to our identity and our existence.  All of the forces of today's world, all of the sophisticated developments in the field of knowledge and multi-media combine to teach us to love self, to cultivate a strong self-image, to resist and overcome anything that would diminish the quality of our lives.  We can become frustrated and even cynical at times, and yet there is a trusting child within each of us - one who is willing to put his/her hand in the one who walked the road to Jerusalem, trust him and follow wherever he would lead.  
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Taking Up the Cross
If Christianity is to have a worthwhile message for the contemporary world, it must be based on the vision of God that we have received from Jesus himself. It must be based on what He himself saw his mission to be. And it must be rooted in who we believe Jesus to be.
Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ - Christ Among Us and Within US
We gather this weekend to remember and celebrate the Body and Blood of Christ. We listen to Christ's words as shared by Paul: "Do this in remembrance of me..." and we hear again Paul's exhortation "for as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes." Today, we again remind ourselves that when Jesus commands his disciples to eat his flesh and drink his blood, he invites each of us to take his life into the very center of our being. The life which he offers is the very life of God himself.
Trinity Sunday - The God We Profess
Pope Francis once commented on how today's Catholics can proclaim Christ and live the Gospel message in the modern world.  The key to become effective "proclaimers" of God's Word, he said, is lived witness. "The love of Christ, poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, enables us to live like this, to be like this: as persons always ready to forgive: always ready to trust, because we are full of faith in God; always ready to inspire hope, because we ourselves are full of hope."
Pentecost Sunday - Making Mischief
"The Holy Spirit is alive and well and making mischief..." - Sr. Simone Campbell For Fifty Days we have lived and breathed the miracle of Easter/Pentecost.  Hopefully we have reflected and understood - better than ever before - that this is not just a spectacular episode of Salvation History that happened a long time ago, but that it still touches us with its reverberations.  For us as a people of faith, Easter/Pentecost is NOW.  It is the continuing invitation from our God for an ongoing, ever new encounter with Him and with others.
7th Sunday of Easter - Integrity and Unity
One of the last things for which Jesus prayed while He was still among us was unity. It was His hope that all mankind - men and women of all races, creeds and beliefs - recognize their shortcomings, put aside their prejudices, and come together to rejoice in the Gift that God has given to us all: redemption, freedom from ignorance and illusion, and the grace to love one another as He loved us.
5th Sunday of Easter - How Will They Know Us?
"This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." This is the heart of the Gospel message - the foundation stone of our Christian faith: love is a gift of God; when we learn to love, we experience God...and our love only reflects God when it is not focused on self but on others. Our love is only God-like when it is given unconditionally, and without being earned... and when it seeks no return.
3rd Sunday of Easter - Tending Sheep
Jesus began his message with friendship, not only because it is powerful, but also because it is hopeful. It is the key, the only key, that can unlock the door to a worthwhile future in love. Jesus saw the truth of that 20 centuries ago. Instead of organizing institutions, he started a movement based on friendship, on love. That is the only solution to the problems of the human heart. People can live together under almost any conditions if they are friends, if they are in love. - Sr. Jayne Kelly

The resurrection appearances of Jesus are filled with surprises and mystifying details. His friends do not recognize Him; He appears through locked doors; He has broken out of a tomb, but carries the wounds of His dying. He speaks of peace and forgiveness. He promises the gift of His Spirit. He sends His disciples to change the world.
Easter Sunday - Shattering Tombs
Easter is about rebirth. It is about re-creation. It is about new life. It is about the fact that Jesus now invites us to open our hearts to his new Easter power. Easter is about shattering tombs. Jesus wants to give us the power to rise from tombs of darkness after our hope has been washed to pieces. He wants to give us the power to rise from the tomb of discouragement after our love has been rejected. He wants to give us the power to rise from tombs of doubt after our faith has been shaken. This is the good news of Easter.
5th Sunday of Lent - Hearts Recreated
This Sunday's Gospel moves from fiction to reality. Last week, we heard Jesus draw a touching picture of His Father through the parable of the Prodigal Son. But today's Gospel passage is from real life. It doesn't deal with imaginary characters in a made-up situation, but with a woman of the region with a bad reputation, caught in the act of adultery. The Pharisees and scribes - the "good guys" - just happened to be in the right place to spy on the lady, and, of course, felt obliged to denounce her. Conveniently, so they thought, they could at the same time embarrass Jesus and undermine His popularity and authority. They were certain that He would lose face, no matter how He handled the situation. It was a no-brainer situation for them! A great stroke of luck.
4th Sunday of Lent - Lost and Found
The world's great literature is filled with classic stories of forgiveness; but no one dealt more effectively with forgiveness than Jesus. He wanted to imprint on our minds and hearts the indelible image of God as the forgiver "par excellence". He was telling the divine story. He wanted to remove the cloud of doubt and fear that hangs so tangibly over the relationship between God and us. And so He talked on so many occasions about the compassion of His Father, about how readily and completely He forgives us, over and over again. He spoke about forgiving seventy times seven times; about leaving one's gift at the altar to go and seek reconciliation first. He forgave others Himself, constantly, unconditionally - the adulteress, the divorcee at the well, the tax collector, Peter, Judas, His executioners.
3rd Sunday of Lent - Our Burning Bushes
In every age, Jesus continues to invite people to have faith in Him as Son of God and Savior. His mission is always the same - to reveal the Father's love to the world. His method is always the same: to give us clear signs, leading us to believe in Him and to serve one another.
2nd Sunday in Lent - Knowing God is Near
Part of the theology that most of us inherited taught that our journey of faith was one of living our lives "according to God's plan", of accepting our state in life - whatever it may be - as part of His will for us, and submitting to the sometimes unreasonable demands that we seem to think He makes upon us. The soul is spirit, noble, most God-like; the flesh is lowly, corruptible, and definitely mortal. We were trained to struggle against the desires of the body, to subdue, to repress. Our ultimate goal is our reunion with our God in the heavenly kingdom; our earthly journey is one of "earning" our citizenship in heaven.
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Is Anyone Listening?
There is always a temptation in religious communities to control and possess all of the ways in which God works, and not to give credit to anyone who is not part of the group or not of like mind. In today's Gospel we continue Luke's account of the beginning of Jesus' ministry. He has just read a passage from the prophet Isaiah describing the long awaited Messiah, and has declared that this prophecy has now been fulfilled: "Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." He is in effect announcing his own claim to be God's chosen one for the liberation of his people.
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Anointed by the Spirit
I suppose we would find it hard to imagine being in the presence of Jesus and not recognizing him. It's hard to imagine that He would be just another face in the crowd, and that there would be nothing remarkable or exceptional that would make him stand out from all the rest.
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Ordinary Time; Continuing the Mission
In these days that immediately follow our celebrations of Christmas, Epiphany and the Baptism of Jesus, all of the lights and decorations, all of the wreaths and pine boughs, all of the signs of these special feasts are gone. Our sanctuaries are relatively bare. And the focus of attention is now on us, the people of God, the followers of Jesus; we, too, who have been anointed by the Spirit of God we too have been baptized in His Spirit; we too have been sent to complete His mission.
The Baptism of the Lord - The Challenge of Baptism
Today we celebrate the baptism of the Lord, the beginning of His public ministry. It is a special moment in His Life. "You are my beloved in whom I am well pleased…" Jesus never did anything "by the book." John the Baptist pleaded with him that it was he who should be baptized. Peter argued that He would never wash his feet. The Pharisees pointed out that anyone who frequented with tax collectors and sinners could not possibly be the Messiah, the long-awaited conqueror. But Jesus reveals the startling difference that the reign of God will come about not through military conquest, but through compassion and peace ("a bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench"). The Baptism of Jesus was a beginning - the beginning of the mission of compassion and justice, pre-figured in the Servant passage of Isaiah and echoed by the heavenly voice.
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God - Do You Hear What I Hear?
As we look toward a new year of promise and hope, as we finish off the last of the Christmas cookies, and start thinking about re-packing decorations until next year, we might do well to take a moment or two and reflect: What are the voices of Christmas? What words did they speak to us? As the Christmas Carol asks: Do you hear what I hear?
A Christmas Reflection for Our Time...
Something different for this Christmas, 2018...    Lest we forget our own story, I'd like to share some excerpts from "Yes, There is a War on Christmas" by John Pavlovitz: "Christmas is a child of Palestinian Jewish parents desperately fleeing politically ordered genocide.

Christmas is a dark-skinned refugee, born amid the smell of damp straw and animal dung, because no human-worthy welcome could be found.
4th Sunday of Advent - Word Become Flesh
The image of Mary greeting Elizabeth is filled with meaning for us as we begin our celebration of the feast of Christmas. On the surface, it is the meeting of two cousins - just a friendly visit. But these two women have been favored by the Lord and filled with unexpected new life. It is the child in Elizabeth's womb who leaps at the approach of Mary carrying her hidden treasure.
3rd Sunday of Advent - What Are We to Do?
The crowds asked John an Advent question: "What are we to do?" Like people in every age, they were beset with fear, anxiety, and discouragement. We have as many reasons as they to be afraid, to be filled with concern about health, economics and social evils. We are constantly faced with a barrage of images that show us - quite emphatically - how broken our world has become. Every day we are confonted with aggression, war, competition, greed, and the lust for property and power. There seems to be far too much for us to handle anymore:  reminders of how vulnerable we really are; the growing number of the poor, homeless and displaced, not only worldwide, but here at home as well; the effect of climate change and seeming unwillingness of leadership to do anything about it... how inept we really have become at being "brother's keeper."
2nd Sunday of Advent - Prepare the Way... Marantqha!
The readings early in Advent point to the overturning and the renewal of the whole world. The Scriptures prepare us to pray with the church our Advent prayer, "Come, Lord Jesus," and they bring a promise from our God, that God will bring renewal to God’s people; not just an interior change, but by a transformation of the world.
1st Sunday of Advent - Be Watchful, Always
"Be watchful, praying always that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man." - Luke 21:36 "Be Watchful" is not exactly a very pleasant phrase to be heard as we prepare for the holidays on this first Sunday of Advent. It can mean a lot of different things to different people: "be careful," "stay awake," "keep on your toes," "heads up!" But for the Christian, the phrase "be watchful and pray always" implies that one should make the most of all opportunities, be attentive to the presence of God at each moment of life, and prepare for the Kingdom already present in this world.
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King
The feast of Christ the King signals the end of the liturgical year, and our preparation for the season of Advent We acknowledge Jesus the Christ as our King, we look to His kingdom - already but not fully present - and we proclaim Him as Lord of the Universe. We acknowledge that in the realm of faith, our leader is, now and always, Jesus Christ, the shepherd-king, who remains always the perfect example of how power is to be used for service.
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Persevering in a Broken World
November is supposed to be a transitional time of year. Most all of the trees have lost their leaves, the weather is getting colder and more brisk, and we look to the rapidly approaching winter. In November, everything seems a bit quieter; it's supposed to be a good time to "take stock" - to think about being thankful for the events of the past year, and of looking forward in hope to the coming of a new year.
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Identifying With The Mission
The struggle between Good and Evil is one that humanity has been dealing with from the first moments of time. Certainly within the last few weeks, it has not taken much to recognize the presence of evil in our world, but we find it much more difficult in our daily lives to see God's invitation to Love and then to respond to it.
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time - Making Our Way to Jerusalem
 The human story is filled with broken dreams. Created in the image of God, we can fashion marvelous possibilities of success, fame and pleasure, and spend much of our time and effort trying to make at least some of these dreams come true. But we will always encounter along the way people or circumstances that will shatter those dreams.
7th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Bearing the Image of God
Today’s Gospel is a continuation of Luke’s “Sermon on the Plain.”  After listing the "beatitudes" - characteristics that identify His followers - Jesus gives His listeners a road map outlining how they are to live out their lives as His followers. "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you … Give to all who ask … Do to others as you would have them do to you... Stop judging... Stop condemning... Forgive."  This is the path each one of us must follow.  This is the journey of faith on which we find ourselves day after day.
1st Sunday in Lent - Finding Strength in the Desert
Traditionally, the Season of Lent begins with the Gospel Reading of Jesus' temptations in the desert. We all know the story very well. The Lord ventured out into the wilderness for 40 days - a time He needed to spend alone in the presence of His Father. We imagine that He needed this time - to reflect, to pray, to prepare for the ministry that He came to Live.
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Reimagining The Fire Of The Gospel
"Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division."
I have to admit I've always had some difficulty with these words. The Lord asks and answers his own question, without even giving us a chance to answer. And the answer he gives is certainly not one that any of us would have given.
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Inclusive Discipleship
The Gospel passages chosen for these last couple of Sundays before Lent comprise the substance of what we traditionally know as Luke's "Sermon on the Plain" - the counterpart to the "Sermon on the Mount" found in the Gospel of Matthew.  These words of Jesus as recounted by Luke make up the heart of the Gospel message, the substance of the "Good News."  At the core of the sermon is Jesus' teaching on the love of one's enemies, that has as its core God's graciousness and compassion for all humanity and Jesus' teaching on the love of one's neighbor that is characterized by forgiveness and generosity.